Camp season is in full swing, and with more overnight camps than ever offering “mini camps” for one and two weeks, as opposed to the traditional one or two months, you may find yourself sending a child off for the first time or sending them to multiple overnight camps during one season. While most camps issue a list of things to pack, here are seven must-pack items you should be sure not to forget sending along to overnight camp with your child.

Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Overnight Camp Rain Protection

While most camps put a raincoat on their standard “what to pack list,” consider the rain poncho alternative.

Depending on when, where and how long your children are attending camp, there’s a chance they may not even need it (despite it being on the required list), so why waste the room in the limited space you have?

Ponchos are fairly cheap, cover more than a raincoat, and aren’t as heavy to wear in the hot summer months. If your child hates it and it gets “lost,” you won’t have wasted too much money. I like to think of them as a bit of a lucky charm in keeping the rain at bay—but they do the job if it actually rains!

Small Sunblock

Sunscreen (non-aerosol) is almost always on the packing list but will your children actually use it? To get them into a more regular habit, try sending them with one of the highly portable mini-sunscreen sticks. Many companies offer ones geared towards infants. Because they’re made for babies, they also work well for anyone with sensitive skin and they have maximum levels of sun protection. They’re small enough for a kid to put into a pocket or store on the often-tiny shelves or orange crates they may be given for personal items.


Make Like MacGyver

Overnight Camp, Sleepover Camp, Sleepaway Camp

Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Duct tape (or Duck Tape) is a handy thing to have around in the event someone accidentally steps down from a bunk and smashes part of your kid’s trunk or rips a bag. Just tape ‘em back together! And with duct tape now available in so many cool patterns, your child can also use it for arts and crafts activities during rest hour or downtime. It’s small enough to fit into a corner of a bag, it rips without requiring scissors, and in the end, you may receive a new billfold, keychain, belt…who knows?  Make sure to pick a pattern that you both like!

Keep ‘Em Dry

At most overnight camps, your children will be using their towel for swimming on a regular basis, as well as taking showers, um, probably not on such a regular basis. Minimal clothesline typically accompanies each cabin, and maybe it gets some sun or maybe it doesn’t. Regardless, it’s typically hard to get a towel to air dry in a day if the sun is limited or if there are other towels draped over it. Send an extra towel. If your children don’t need to use it as a towel, it can become an additional soft lining for their standard-army-issue bunk bed.

Pass the Soap

All camps request that you pack soap for your child. With good reason. But they also seem to always ask for bar soap in a soap box. Yuck. Sorry, but I’ve yet to find a child who likes using it after the first time — when the bar was dry and brand new. Once it’s hit the camp showers, or the floor, and then been tucked away still wet in the soapbox, it’s pretty unappetizing. But drug stores offer an option – liquid soap. Let your children go with you to pick out one of the travel size options of liquid soap, and I guarantee you, they’ll be much cleaner throughout camp!

In The Bag

Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

A few Ziploc-type bags can go a long way in making sure the bathroom toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, bug spray etc.) don’t end up all over everything. In the event that something opens, not only will your children’s clothes stay dry, they can also take any items out of the plastic bags, wash them off, and then put them into a new/clean bag. Bags easily roll up and take up virtually no space. And they can be used for just about anything. (Consider multiple sizes.)

Wet Naps

Put one for each day of camp into a small Ziploc-type bag (which you’ll have if you heeded the above suggestion). These wipes come in handy—especially when all of the sudden there are no paper towels or toilet paper left in the bathroom or when your child has opted not to shower but needs a bit of a clean-up.

If there are extras at the end of camp, leave them in your car when you’re done the return trip. You may need them yourself.

Take advantage of the brief respite while your child is sleeping away from home, and you’ll sleep even better knowing they have these must-packs tucked away!

Share your secret for packing a child off to camp in the comment section below.